Barge Collides with a Four on the Rhine

Basler RC’s Club House. From Basler Ruder-Club website.

17 January 2020

By Larry Fogelberg

Yet another tragic accident hits the rowing community when a women’s four collided with a barge on the Rhine, Larry Fogelberg writes.

In the collision, one of the members of the crew, a 52-year-old woman, died and three other rowers were injured. The victim was a member of the Basler Ruder-Club, Switzerland.

The fatal accident occurred on 13 January on the Rhine in Birsfelden in canton Basel Country.

A crew of four women were rowing downstream in the area of Birsfelderhafen shortly after 7.15 p.m. when they collided with a barge travelling upstream. The four capsized, and while three of the women were able to get to the shore, the fourth woman was later found dead.

Christoph Socin, president of Basler Ruder-Club, confirmed that the four women were club members and all are experienced rowers.  Socin said the accident was a “great shock” to the club.

“I myself have been a member of the rowing club for 51 years. In that time there has never been a fatal accident. We are deeply affected,” Socin said.

The police are now investigating how this accident could have happened. While it’s not forbidden to row on the Rhine in the dark, the authorities are trying to ensure that rowers are not rowing in the Birsfelderhafen area, but on the German side, closer to the shore.

This is not the first accident of this kind on the Rhine. Last March, a freighter overran a double sculls. The two men rowing were pulled under the vessel but managed to escape unharmed. The freighter didn’t even realize it had run over the men and continued on its way.

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